Howls by Ann Cuthbert

In Ann Cuthbert’s poem ‘Howls’, we see how terror and tragedy can hide in the utter-ness of the everyday. It is not always loud or visible. This is the crumbling of an individual amongst the mundane and it is so much more effective for that. When she gets a chance to be alone, she howls. When she is in company, she goes on as if everything is the same. This whole feeling of dangling in secret limbo is perfectly summed up in the line ‘Sunday morning in a Hull hotel’. The truth of her is written into the pain of the last line, ‘Phil’s telling us a story, something funny done a while ago, and we all howl.’ I also sense some defiance in there, some clinging to the ‘norm’ that demonstrates the writers determination to survive. – Jane Burn, guest editor


One evening, coming in from work,
before the diagnosis, waiting for results,
I sit on the floor behind the sofa
and howl.

Sunday morning in a Hull hotel,
sun shining in through plate-glass windows,
I eat breakfast with long-time friends.
Murmur of conversation, clink of cutlery.
Phil’s telling us a story, something funny done a while ago,
and we all howl.

Ann Cuthbert

Ann Cuthbert loves writing pieces for people to read and performing poems and assuming personas for live audiences. Her work has been published widely in magazines and anthologies both online and in print. Most recently, her short story, Going to Graceland, was highly commended in the 3rd Crossing the Tees short story competition. Her poetry chapbook, Watching a Heron with Davey, is published by Black Light Engine Room Press.

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